FMC-hosted panel hopes to quell cultural qualms

NEW YORK — Vintage Charlie Chan movies — driven from the Fox Movie Channel this summer by protests from Chinese-American pressure groups — are coming back to the network this month.

But this time the Asian Coalition won’t be kicking up a fuss, as FMC has convened a panel of “prominent” Asian American actors, authors, historians and sociologists to “address racial stereotypes, the casting of non-Asians in Asiatic roles and race relations in America.”

Chuck Saftler, general manager of FMC, said the discussion will “place the films in the proper cultural context.” Karen Narasaki, president and executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, said the roundtable should “help raise the level of awareness … of the issues many Asian Americans have with these films.”

FMC has scheduled the discussion for Sept. 13, the date that the first of four Chan movies will run, “Murder Over New York” (1940). The three others, which will be repeated throughout the month, are “Charlie Chan at the Opera” (1936), “Castle in the Desert” (1942) and “Charlie Chan in Honolulu” (1938). Sidney Toler plays Chan in all of them except “Opera,” which stars Warner Oland.

FMC had originally scheduled 22 Chan titles, all produced and distributed by 20th Century Fox, for its summer festival.

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